10

Three Little Words

Wisefather

I don’t want to say them, and yet they have to be said.

I know, from stories shared by friends, that the fallout might be devastating. It would be so easy to stay silent, just leave things as they are.

But my parents raised me to speak the truth.

So I do.

“Dad, I’m gay.”

Silence…followed by silence…finally broken by his long exhale. Then more silence. My law school professors have spent the better half of the semester teaching me how to present evidence and argue my position, but nothing has prepared me for this –

The silence.

“Dad?”

****

I am 12 again, shuffling into his basement study, an unfinished tetrahedron in my hands.

“I can’t finish my project.”

He looks up from the thick, black binders covering his desk, his eyes taking a moment to focus on me instead of the numbers he must analyze for work. “What are you still doing up?” His voice is hoarse, having not spoken to anyone for the last 5 hours. He disappeared after dinner and hadn’t surfaced since.

“Can you help me with this?”

I have grossly underestimated how long it will take to thread colored string through a 3D wooden triangle. I’ve had the project for a week, but just started it tonight.

“When is it due?”

“Tomorrow.”

There’s the look. It’s isn’t the first time I’ve seen it, nor the last.

Disappointment.
Irritation.
Resignation.

The dot matrix springs to life, filling the silence. My dad exhales, then motions to the edge of the desk. “Just leave it there.”

“But I have to hand it – “

“Goodnight,” he says with a finality I know better than to argue with. Then he’s back in his world of numbers and I climb the stairs to bed.

My dad can be intimidating, in that intense, FOB way. Like when we tackle word problems after dinner and his fist pounds the dining room table to underscore his point.

It’s. Just. English.” Pound. Pound. Pound. “Read it again. What time will they meet?”

The words are a blur through my tears.  I go over the problem again, but no matter how many times I read it, I still don’t get how the train going 35mph will pass the train heading towards it at 67mph, let alone when. Still, I hazard a guess.

“12:52?”

He shakes his head, exhales slowly. Then there’s the look.

“We’ll try again tomorrow.”

****

“Dad?”

I’m still waiting for him to say something…anything. Still expecting the look, but he hasn’t looked at me. Not since I said my three words.

Finally, his eyes meet mine, and his look is…bemused?

“I already know.”
“OK.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.”
“Is it Lori?”
“Yes.”

A long exhale, followed by silence. A gentle hand placed on my shoulder as he stands to leave.

“I love you.”

He gives me a quick squeeze before disappearing to his basement study.

I lay my head down, pressing a cheek into the cool wood surface. I close my eyes, replaying the gift he has just given me…remembering the one he left ten years before.

A tetrahedron.

No fuss.
No note.
Just…complete.

Thank you, Dad.

0

Happy Mother’s Day – From Huffington Post

"...the random kid at the neighborhood playground who responds to Nick's opening statement of "I have two moms" with "I have a pet hamster -- want to see it?"

“…the random kid at the neighborhood playground who responds to Nick’s opening statement of “I have two moms” with “I have a pet hamster — want to see it?”

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the families out there!

There are so many ways to make a family. Whether you’re a mom, a grandma, a step-mom or Mr. Mom, this is a day to celebrate all of the things you for the children who have chosen to be a part of your life.

I wrote a piece for The Huffington Post to celebrate our family. Read the entire article here.

2

I Never Promised You A Rose Garden


After 20 years you get to know your partner pretty well.

This is why you’ll spend 2 hours in the garden because the weeds have made it their kingdom and even though your partner comments on the overgrown state every single time she passes your private Sherwood Forest, and laments over how she simply must get the fall seeds into the ground, she won’t actually doing anything about it until there is a clear path from the walkway to the raised garden beds.

This is also why she’ll cook a week’s worth of food for you and the kids before she goes out of town, putting it in serving-sized containers labeled with microwave instructions and side dish pairings because she knows if left to your own devices you and the kids will be eating cereal, pizza, and McDonald’s for every meal.

You’ll know that since both of you are the children of immigrants, you will plan nothing special to mark 20 years together, save a card on the pillow that lampoons married life with frightening accuracy and has you both howling with laughter.

Instead, you’ll spend your special day in back-to-back conference calls and marathon brainstorm sessions. You’ll look up at the clock and suddenly realize you’re going to be late for the parent-teacher-principal conference to discuss why, oh why, did Nick put his gym shoe in the urinal. In the middle of the meeting, you’ll remember that after 2 days of rolling and squeezing the tube with as much strength as you can muster, you are now officially out of toothpaste. Afterwards, you will pick up your sulky eldest boy, whiny middle son, and cranky diva daughter who, by the way, is in completely different clothes from the morning since she decided to pour her sippy cup into her lap instead of her mouth in protest of the switch from a bottle.

You will listen to “I’m a Paleontologist” 16 times on repeat during the ride home which is the boys’ new favorite song and still more appropriate that their former favorite song LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know it” (thank you, B96). You’ll hastily throw together dinner – noodles and spag sauce – most of which will land on the floor since at least 2 of the children have forgotten that they actually know how to use forks and the third is just pissed, well, just because.

After dinner, you’ll tap your inner structural engineer to build a cushion fort that can accommodate 3 enthusiastic – and overtired – children and their limited understanding of spatial relationships in a confined space. After 3 ice packs for 3 different collisions, you’ll march them upstairs for a relatively drama-free tuck-in. And by 11:30, you will collapse into your bed, thankful the day has come to a close.

This will last until 11:35 when your 2 year old wakes up screaming and you’ll run into the bedroom and are able to feel the heat from his body before you even place a hand on his forehead. You’ll mentally rearrange tomorrow’s appointments when the thermometer shows a 104 fever and you know he’ll need to stay home. Then you’ll ply him with ice water and carry him off to the guest bedroom because you also know that in this feverish state he’ll turn into a soccer player in bed and at least one parent should get a semi-decent night’s sleep.

It won’t be you.

As you stare at the ceiling, after one more kick to the kidney, you’ll wonder if this is what you and your partner had envisioned all those years ago, when you served overcooked white rice and mushy vegetables (to an Asian! What were you thinking?!), and she started dinner by saying she wasn’t looking for a relationship. You’ll remember how, after 3 month of dating, she told you not to drop off the face of the earth but she seriously, seriously just did not have time for whatever was growing between you. You’ll laugh at your insistence that you were absolutely meant to be together, but you were nobody’s doormat, so when she got her s*** together, she should give you a call.

You’ll be thankful that you both stuck it out, balancing each other’s quirks and supporting each other’s crazy dreams. Then you’ll get up from bed, walk down the hallway and kiss your sleeping partner on the cheek, amused and amazed that you’ve lasted this long.

“Happy Anniversary.”

0

Fly Arrow – Straight and True!

Let the boys be boys…

Last night at Navy Pier, Nick and Gabe could have collected more numbers than The Biebster at Old Orchard Mall. Unlike their parents, our boys have charisma up the wazoo, which is why people stop what they’re doing to talk to them.

Nick and Gabe love the attention.  With men, they are polite. Engaging, with a hint of reserve.  But with the ladies, the charm goes to 11.  They smile, chat, laugh – in other words, they flirt.

Yup, our boys are straight.

We had hints with Nick.  When he was 4, he kept staring at a girl who looked about 5 across the street.  Long hair, prairie skirt…

“Nick, do you know her?”
“No, but I want to.”

They start so young….

Gabe, being the younger brother, trumped Nick by about 3 years.  As a baby, he began copping feels anytime a buxom broad picked him up.  At first it was cute, then it became comic after we corrected him with a gentle, “No, sir” which he then added to his repertoire:

Cop feel.  Smile. Say “No, Sir” with cute toddler lisp. Rinse and repeat.

If he’s doing this at 10, it’s a problem.  Then again, if women are picking him up at 10 – either literally or otherwise…yeah, a much bigger problem.

Where oh where did we go wrong?  Was it something we did?  Or didn’t do?

But what if…they were just born this way.

We’ll have to remind ourselves that God doesn’t make mistakes.  Even when the non-stop calls from HS girls start coming – which is why we plan to bury these hyper-athletic boys in sports to keep them TIRED and BUSY – we will say we are not here to judge.

Unless the girls are skanks.  Then all bets are off.

We’ll do our job as parents and raise them to be the best versions of who they are, no matter who they love.  That’s what our parents did for us.  How could we do anything different?

I’ll wrap up with a tribute to the late Donna Summer.  I love to love my disco, but I feel love for her duet with Musical Youth – my absolute, all-time fav 80’s song.

clip art courtesy: valentine-clipart.com